Surrounded by people, constantly connected and instantly gratified, yet lost, unsatisfied and alone. Like so many people around him, Joe Solitus is drifting through life, a phone in his hand and a laptop under his arm. A pharmaceuticals salesman in Montreal, he’s a normal guy in his late 20s living in the digital age. He works, dates, meets friends, swims, goes to yoga class, talks to his cat and surfs the internet. But a lot of what he does is time-wasting, a filling of a void. There is no search for higher meaning, to find his place in the world, or to come to terms with grief and loss. He’s caught up in what he’s doing and so is everyone else. There’s no time to question anything. With the help of some real-world friends, Joe manages to get outside his comfort zone, first at a tech-free resort, then by going on a digital diet, and finally by starting a movement that goes viral online: Simplicity. He wants to reduce his dependence on technology and get control of his life. But he’s not the only one who wants this. What starts as an underground movement quickly goes mainstream. The simplicity truisms, lifted from the statements Joe’s father used to make, become the gospel for a disenchanted generation desperate for guidance and definition. Joe’s quest to focus on what’s important and get control of his life leads him to face truths he had always avoided and to become the person he never wanted to be. Is Joe Solitus the spokesman for the digital generation? Is simplicity the answer?
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‘The Label Maker’ is the first novel by Mackenzie Stilton. He is currently working on his second novel, also about the impact of digital technologies on our lives.